Note: Make sure to scroll to the bottom and see Garry Maynard’s contribution to this story. Thanks, Gerry!
I am truly horrified and embarrassed to realize how long I’ve had these particular files in the queue. I’m hoping that “better late than never” applies here and I apologize. I’ll let the email from Robert Miele speak for itself. Thank you for these memories!
I was at Valley Forge Military Academy last weekend with my wife, Carole, and daughter, Gabriella where I became aware of bandsir.com from Bill Kear and Gerry Maynard. It was great seeing some of the guys that I have not seen in 45 years. It was especially great seeing Gerry Maynard and Tim Erdman who were my plebe buds.
I am sending you music that was recorded by Cadet John Getz‘s father on reel-to-reel tape. Recently, my wife had this tape put onto a CD. It is our performance at the Harrisburg Horse Show in October of 1969. It has the fanfare trumpets along with the marching band. Some of the formations make it difficult to hear the whole band together at times as we were facing in different directions. However, some of the songs are quite clear as we were in formation facing forward. It also has my performance playing the Post Horn Gallop with Jeff Jarvis playing the echo. Actually, Mr. Getz taped me playing the Post Horn twice. I believe one performance of it is in the afternoon and the other is the evening performance. You may want to delete one of the two performances.
When I play this music for family and friends, they cannot believe their ears. They think it is being played by professionals. At times I can hardly speak when they ask me about it as I get choked up and it literally brings tears to my eyes. I realize that even today, I still have all this pride in the band and the work we did together as a team of young men playing our hearts out for Colonel Feltham who brought the best performance out of us. It is no wonder why we were called, “The Best Band in The Land.”
I also want to thank you so very much for setting up this website for us to access. As I get older and look back at my life, it is nice to have something concrete to both reflect on and share especially with my wife, daughter and family members. Thanks for making this possible.
P.S. I got this note from Gerry Maynard earlier today:
Thank you immensely for what you do with BandSir.com.I just commented on the 69 Harrisburg Horse show posting. Also just took a picture of a picture in the ’70 VF Crossed Sabres of Bob Miele playing the Post Horn Gallop at that 69 show. I’m no tech guy at all (a real dinosaur) but it is attached (if I did that correctly). Not sure if you could link it up somehow to the 69 Harrisburg posting you did. Just a thought—if not, no problem at all.
Again, thanks for everything.
Gerry Maynard, 68, 70.
Thank you, Dan. I’m so glad that no one can see me right now. The time that Gerry & I and many others spent with Bob and his family that day of Alumni Weekend is the epitome of what we had been trying to achieve for so many years. Waiting for the rest of the Band’s “Bob Miele’s” to finally return.
It is so nice to know all of this. Now pardon me while I listen to all of Jeff Jarvis & Bob Miele. Band Sir!
I am in tears at 65 years old. At the time we had no idea what we had at Valley Forge. this was a great time in my life every day this wonderful band played for all of us as a corp and we marched with pride. Any one of us that were a member of the long gray line thought it would never end it did and we all went into the real world we lost touch of these moments until we here again 43 years later and understand what it meant. I was truly blessed to be a part of this I am heart broken to what has become of our Valley Forge.Thanks for filling my heart and giving me a lost moment We prayed as once he prayed Valley Forge for thee.
Exactly my friend. I feel the same way. I am now an old man and think about those days frequently. Richard Wingert ’63 and’65 Band.
Thanks so much for compiling these great memories. As I prepare to start my first day of school and 15th year as Director of Jazz Studies at California State University, Long Beach, hearing some of these recordings makes me realize where it all began. Certainly my father, as a band director and trumpeter, had a lot to do with my interest in music, but my career as a musician, conductor and composer was shaped by Colonel Feltham and by my fellow bandsmen at Valley Forge Military Academy. When I work with my college jazz bands I realize that I have no magic wand that makes them play so well; I simply follow Duke’s strategy – I don’t settle. I ask for 10% more than the players believe they have to give. My experiences at VFMA left me with memories that are just so vivid a half-century later that it seems like it all happened last week. To all of you, and to memories of Bob Miele and the many others we’ve lost, I am honored and privileged to have known you and to have made great music with you. Thank you.
Dear Dan. I add my thanks to that of Bob’s, Bill’s, Jeff’s, and I’m sure many others for your superb commitment to bringing VF memories to life. I know comments are one measure of the audience for your hard efforts, so I wanted to be sure to add my thanks. As I read Bob’s words to you—and knowing Bob has passed—I truly was choked up. Mr. Mulkerns’ comment is very kind and reminds all of us from the Duke bands that innumerable times each day and week we essentially played concerts for an audience of over 1,000–the Long Gray Line of which we were all members. What a remarkable experience. I’m grateful too that Mr. Getz (John’s dad—a brilliant trumpet player who was a member of the Woody Herman Big Band in his day) thought to record selections from the Harrisburg performance, not knowing that years later they would be so important for posterity. He documented utterly electric virtuoso post horn performances by Bob and Jeff, and the remarkable sound of the VF field band at full volume. Good night, we could play well on the march—remarkable balance, intonation, and execution for a youth band—indeed, as Bob noted, rivaling pro military bands. All those Saturday football game half-time performances in September and October (truthfully, not my favorite obligation, except our scholarships came bundled with football half-times!) were critical preparation for the all-important Harrisburg program—as close to a full British military tattoo as those enormous Harrisburg audiences would witness. It’s so obvious when the Band breaks into the slow march with Lawrence of Arabia theme; breathtaking for the audience and drawing their applause. I was saddened to learn of Mr. Getz’s passing years ago; then stunned to learn of Bob Miele’s death far too early (regretting not making the effort to travel from my home in Missouri to attend the alum gathering Bob mentioned); then utterly shocked to learn that John Getz had passed away in recent time. I so appreciate the Feltham-era reunion in Philly, and grateful for the vision of those who organized that reunion—a trip I’d make again in an instant, because it proved the Band’s heartbeat is still there. None of us are promised tomorrow, so the here and now are so important. What a privilege to hear reminders (recorded by Mr. Getz, shared by Bob, and archived by you) in the here and now of what we were and will always be—the Band. Warmest regards. Dan Witter ‘68, ‘70
Thank you, Dan, for your most kind words! As you know, many of the album recordings including the most recent are from files that you provided. It’s a tremendous privilege to preserve these memories. And wow, what incredible musicianship! I marvel at the talent preserved in every file I open. Thanks again! Dan Wolfe, ’74, ’76
Sincere thank you to Dan Wolfe for keeping the VF Band memories alive. Just listened (again) to the 69 Harrisburg Horse Show recordings that Bob Miele sent to you. The memories are vivid all these years later. I gave the “Forward March” command with the mace and the superb musicians stepped on to the dirt floor of the arena with our spit shined shoes, our ranks perfectly aligned—and the Duke alongside. Then the crowd’s applause—-whew, just got a chill down my back.
Ref Bob Miele’s email above describing his return and conversation with me, Bill Kear, Tim Erdman, etc. Sadly, Bob passed away (too early) the next year in 2014. About a month or so before he was taken from us, we had a long conversation and he asked that I speak at his funeral service. I did, and reminisced about our time together at VF. Bob and I were plebe roommates and eventually graduated together 4 yrs later. This was after talking him out of going AWOL about 3 or 4 months in. I caught him going out the window heading down Continental Drive toward the Main Gate—he had had enough of the plebe system. For whatever reason, my youthful counseling must have had some impact. Charlie Scaperotto from our Band also spoke at his service.
Additional note: if you click on the “About the Regimental Band” link on BandSir.com, and scroll down to just past the picture of an unpainted Von Steuben Hall, you’ll read about another great Bob Miele story at our White House concert sent in by Dan Caughey—ironically, also featuring the Post Horn Gallop.
Ahhh–the VF Band memories are life-sustaining. Band Sir!
I truly appreciate all your efforts ..all these years.
I appreciate also all the guys that have made the band reunions a reality.
It has been a very hard couple years for me with my brother’s passing (Bill Daggett)
I couldn’t make the big Duke reunion because I was still working at the time and had commitments I couldn’t reschedule. As hard as I tried, I will always regret that I couldn’t make arrangements otherwise.
I told my brother that we would go the following year together and unfortunately we were all consumed with his struggle with Lung cancer. We had the trip planned but it was too late as it turned out.
I will always cherish the picture of Bill taken in front of Band Barracks during the Duke reunion.
So thank you for keeping the memories alive! I played on this recording that night in Harrisburg. While I played alto sax in the concert band, Duke had me play base drum on the march… (a decision I think he probably regretted later on with all my “base drum concertos ” 🙂
Bill loved the Band and the Duke…and so did I.
Bruce Daggett 67, 69 JC